A “leap second” was added to atomic clocks Saturday to make up for the slowing of the Earth’s rotation. For most, the extra second wasn’t noticeable, but Reddit and Mozilla faced a few unforeseen issues with the “leap second” decision.
Reddit, “a source for what’s new and popular on the web,” and Mozilla were briefly impacted by the “leap second,” according to a Wired article. Apparently, Reddit and Mozilla’s software programs had trouble handling the “leap second.” The issue was most likely caused by an incompatibility between the Network Time Protocol and the world’s atomic clocks. This incompatibility confused software programs used by Reddit and Mozilla.
At 6:41pm, Reddit confirmed via Twitter that they were having technical issues due to the “leap second.” “We are having some Java/Cassandra issues related to the leap second at 5pm PST. We’re working as quickly as we can to restore service,” Reddit Status tweeted.
Eric Ziegenhorn, a Mozilla engineer, posted a bug report, entitled “Java is choking on leap second,” at 8:49 EDT. Mozilla worked quickly to fix any issues after the “leap second” was added. “So, MySQL seemed to be faring just fine during and after the leap second. There were no big problems or catastrophic failures,” Mozilla wrote via their Mozilla IT & Operations blog.
Although no major issues were reported by web companies, web companies are likely to reassess what happened Saturday and to try and figure out a fix so that the next “leap second” doesn’t create so many headaches for web engineers
In the lead up to the year 2000, computer scientists worried about how a change in the clocks would impact computers and society. While the Y2K problem was vastly different than what Reddit and Mozilla faced Saturday night, the issues experienced by the web companies brings into question how important clocks are for computers.
Speaking in 1998, President Bill Clinton weighed in on the problem of Y2K. “The Y2K problem is an enormous challenge, and we must meet it. Enactment of this legislation is a significant achievement toward allowing all of us to take a successful step into the new millennium,” Mr. Clinton said.
Although few problems actually materialized when the clocks turned over to the year 2000, it was a unique opportunity for people to see how intertwined space, time and technology really are.